The head of U.S. Africa Command has asked for an additional investigation into whether civilians were killed during a deadly August raid in Somalia involving American and Somali forces.
Army Col. Mark Cheadle, a spokesman for Africa Command, said Wednesday that Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser has asked the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to look into the details of the raid in Bariire village by Somali troops supported by U.S. special operations forces.
The decision comes just two weeks after Africa Command released a statement discounting reports that several civilians, including children, were killed in the attack.
Cheadle said Waldhauser requested the NCIS investigation in recent days after additional published reports came out saying that local villagers were insisting that innocent civilians were killed. He said Waldhauser also questioned why there have been discrepancies in how many were killed, and decided an additional investigation was needed.
The Aug. 25 raid caused an uproar, with bloodied bodies laid out in the capital, Mogadishu, for display. Some government officials also charged that civilians were killed. In late November, Africa Command announced it had completed a thorough assessment of the raid and concluded that only armed enemy combatants had been killed.
The raid targeted a local farm, and the deputy governor, Ali Nur Mohamed, told reporters that the dead, including children age 8 to 10 and a woman, were killed “one by one mercilessly.”
The Trump administration earlier this year approved expanded military operations against the Somalia-based, al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab. The U.S. has been launching frequent drone strikes against militants in the country this year, including on the small but growing presence of Islamic State group fighters there.
The U.S. trains Somalia forces and at times supports them in raids.